Erik Ellington by Andrew James Peters for Another Magazine

This is a blog about accelerating creative careers, and Erik Ellington has built quite an enviable one. 

Erik’s bundle of responsibilities and opportunities is massive. But he’s not busy, he’s excited. He’s not stressed, he’s energetic. 

A living example of the Intro Limited value system, his energy is so positive that he can manifest parking spots. I’ve witnessed it.

I asked him how he ended up here.   

MA: How do you describe your career?

EE: It’s all over the place, but at the core, I'm a professional skateboarder and a creative director. My first love was always skateboarding and through that I had a career which led me into designing signature products — skateboards, shoes, and clothing. 

That opened the door into the world of design and manufacturing, which led me to co-found Supra Footwear, Baker and Deathwish skateboards, Human Recreational Services, and eventually start a distribution house Bakerboys distribution in 2008 with my friends Andrew Reynolds and Jim Greco.

We handle about ten brands, focusing on product design, e-commerce and wholesale. Beyond our distribution, I still do brand partnerships, consultation, design and creative direction.  

MA: What are the things that make up your professional life currently? 

EE: Our distribution is pretty much self-sustaining, so that frees up my time for other projects. I'm currently working on a few collaborations where I’m contributing design and creative direction, and I’m in the process of launching my own label, Ellington, in 2025. 

Also, I wouldn’t call this professional by any means, but I’ve been exploring residential home design, so we’ll see where that goes. I enjoy the process of building, which I think is the through line of all of my projects, and in construction, it can last longer than a season, so it’s exciting for me. 

MA: With Baker Boys, you've built something that makes money, has soul, and runs without requiring all of your time and energy. Usually you only get to pick 2, and you nailed all 3. How? 

EE: I think the short answer would be respect, and a love of skateboarding and what we do. Bakerboys unofficially started about two decades ago, and the distribution house itself took shape in 2008. 

We originally launched our first brand in 2001, we had successful careers as professional skateboarders and that gave us a bit of a cushion, enabling us to withstand some early challenges, like getting embezzled by one of our employees and some other pretty major startup setbacks. Thankfully, it taught us valuable lessons early on.

As we grew and stabilized, we kept the soul while we invested in strong backend support, hiring an experienced GM and accounting firm, ensuring our operations were on point. My partners and I, we still show up, skate, and have the same attitude. Our employees, team riders and our peers know that our heart is in it for the right reasons… there’s a respect for that, so the right people stuck around and it eventually began to operate efficiently without us having to be there on the day to day. 

MA: How has skateboarding made you a better entrepreneur and creative professional? 

EE: I believe that determination is a key factor in success. In skating you’re attempting something hundreds, if not thousands, of times... knowing you may not make it. It’s a built-in drive to persist. I believe this principle has held true across all my projects, whether it's launching a company, developing a brand, or constructing a house. Skateboarding taught me that. 

MA: Aside from immense talent, what were the key dominoes that fell and opened doors for you professionally? 

EE: I could attribute them to being in the right place at the right time, or perhaps to talent, but I believe it's more about how I approach situations and my attitude. 

I think that determination and the willingness to embrace challenges, despite potential failure, have been crucial to my success. 

I've always done my best to work hard, maintain a positive attitude, and be easy to collaborate with. As a result, when opportunities come up, I’m someone that people think of and want to work with.

MA: What qualities do you look for in people, especially people you're considering hiring or doing business with? 

EE: Respect for yourself and others, empathy, honesty, determination, skill, the humility to take accountability. If you have that, and the right attitude, you can learn almost anything. 

MA: What are your hobbies?

EE: I’ve always tinkered with home projects but now I’m learning how to weld and custom build light fixtures. Hopefully if you ask me in a year, that will be a real hobby! 

More of Erik's story here.